Monthly Recurring Subscription Donation

Enter Amount

2014 May 22 Thursday
Ewing Bank area, Gulf of Mexico
OWOC’s second formal Whale Shark search of 2014, and our first search in the Ewing Bank area(WS2-EB1)

On this second search of the season for whale sharks, we were excited to visit the area that historically has always been visited by large aggregations of these gentle giants of the sea — the Ewing Bank area, a wide shelf located about 200 miles south-southwest of New Orleans.  This was still early in the year, as previously the large groups have been spotted here in June.  But there had been some reports from fishermen of sightings, so we were ready and eager.

What we found was heartening — lots of dolphins and large tuna, bonito, and other fish (even some marlin!), but alas, no whale sharks.  The sargassum was gorgeous and there was lots of it. There were also many areas of surface oil sheen, some around platforms and drillships, some sitting in apparently isolated areas (pipeline leaks or natural seeps, hard for us to say).

Here are maps showing our flight survey of today. The icons indicate substantial sightings — of sargassum, of bait balls (mostly bonito and smaller except for some larger fish near some of the platforms), groups of dolphin with large tuna and a sighting of some marlin, and surface oil pollution, and some of the more interesting platforms and cargo and drillships.

We didn’t get great photos today of the marine life, but we do have some interesting photos of the coastal areas some offshore vessels and platforms, sargassum, and of course the oil slicks.  Here are some of our favorites, with more in the galleries below, followed by our detailed Flight Log for today, which gives the exact locations of all of these sightings.

 

Here are the additional photo galleries:

 

*****  On Wings Of Care Flight Log for 20140522 - Thursday *****
Whale Shark Survey in the Gulf of Mexico

Ewing Bank Survey #1 for 2014 (2014 WS2-EB1)

Note:  Flight Route is Light Green on Map

All waypoint numbers below refer to the GPS tracks shown in today’s article at OnWingsOfCare.org.

Times are given in CDT. 
Lat/lons are typically given in degrees and decimal minutes (except in the table below, where they are in decimal degrees)
Pilot & Aircraft:
Bonny L. Schumaker, Ph.D. (ATP, CFI-AIM), N4784E (“Bessie”)
Spotters/Crew: Jennifer McKinney (LDWF), Stephen Delahoussaye

Seas and weather: Seas 2-3 ft, winds 10 kts from the southwest
Sky & Visibility: Mostly clear, 10-mile visibility. 
Flight time: 5.5 hours

Flight route: KNEW -

Actual Flight: 691nm within an area of 4,226 sq nm
Maps of our route showing the following waypoints identified during our flight, plus some relevant waypoints from previous flights, are in today’s article (including a link to our GPS track file).

DVR FLT PLAN: (Xpdr____):

N4784E, C172/U 115 kts. KNEW ETD 11450Z, <1,500’, KNEW. ETE: 6.0 hrs. Wildlife survey.
First Dest: ~185 nm south -southwest (205°) of KNEW (SW corner of Ewing Bank survey grid)
ADIZ-Back: ~N28 52 W090 37

New Waypoints and sightings:

WPT

LAT

LON

TIME

DESCRIPTION

1011

29.13

-90.71

2014-05-22T13:56:06Z

Brown algae (?) in waters north of Isles Dernieres

1012

28.93

-90.88

2014-05-22T14:03:46Z

**Dolphin 5—7, S of sarg patch.

1013

28.75

-91.02

2014-05-22T14:10:41Z

**Lots of small bait balls.

1014

28.69

-91.08

2014-05-22T14:13:17Z

** 3 dolphin + some tuna

1015

28.67

-91.09

2014-05-22T14:13:52Z

** ~25 Dolphin + bonito

1016

28.47

-91.25

2014-05-22T14:21:14Z

XL Sargassum ~ 2 nm to our west

1017

28.28

-91.30

2014-05-22T14:27:35Z

Drillship? “Tetra”  Buoys around it

1018

28.22

-91.31

2014-05-22T14:29:23Z

3 shrimpers

1019

27.98

-91.32

2014-05-22T14:37:23Z

^^ Oil Sheen E-W,>2 nm long x 15m N-S

1020

27.88

-91.32

2014-05-22T14:40:17Z

^^ Long sheen N-S ~2 nm, to our SW about 2 nm

1021

27.77

-91.31

2014-05-22T14:44:06Z

^^ Sheen, long line N-S, + sargassum patches

1022

27.79

-91.19

2014-05-22T14:52:15Z

**Baitballs, ~30 good-sized fish

1023

27.94

-91.20

2014-05-22T14:57:00Z

Cargo ship moving westward, “Theodore Storm”

1024

27.83

-91.11

2014-05-22T15:28:38Z

^^ Oil sheen, 3/4 nm N-S x 15 m W-E.

1025

27.73

-91.11

2014-05-22T15:31:44Z

Ship (w/ ROV?) “Helix Producer 1”

1026

27.96

-91.00

2014-05-22T15:43:31Z

Platform “Shell Pipeline GC16” (GC18 to west of us)

1027

28.06

-90.99

2014-05-22T15:46:51Z

** Platform + 2 fishing boats + Supply boat; Some small BaitBalls

1028

27.97

-90.87

2014-05-22T16:16:39Z

Shrimper

1029

27.97

-90.87

2014-05-22T16:16:50Z

**Platform w/ a few large jumping fish (King Mackerel?). Fst boat to our southwest “High Life”; large ship also “Malakaa”.  Also platform GC65 + 2 supply boats + 1 fishing boat, buoy to our W. Lots of large fish, Marlin!

1030

27.70

-90.83

2014-05-22T16:29:58Z

^^ Oil Sheen about 2 nm to our South, near #0660, W-E ~0.5 nm x 20 m wide.

1031

27.77

-90.79

2014-05-22T16:33:35Z

^^ Oil sheen to our west, ~400m N-S, ~300m W-E.

1032

27.84

-90.73

2014-05-22T16:37:07Z

Platform + supply boat, “Noble Driller”

1033

28.09

-90.73

2014-05-22T16:44:47Z

Platform - ?

1034

28.16

-90.72

2014-05-22T16:47:00Z

Platform ST300A  (ST295 to west)

1035

28.32

-90.59

2014-05-22T16:56:48Z

Lots of sargassum! Esp to west.

1036

27.79

-90.64

2014-05-22T17:15:38Z

Shrimper to our East

1037

27.73

-90.58

2014-05-22T17:18:32Z

GC1 Deepwater Nautilus MODU

1038

27.77

-90.52

2014-05-22T17:21:05Z

Chevron GC?; later Platform ST295A